Please review our recent update regarding the content of this blog post.

By Angelo A. Paparelli and Gabriel Mozes

In its waning hours, the Trump Administration announced comprehensive, burdensome changes to H-1B visa requirements for multiple firms across virtually all industries.  Fortunately, however, the changes are set to detonate on a long fuse, i.e., by July 14, 2021, unless the Biden Administration, Congress or the Courts sooner intervene.  The effects of these changes will be felt by every company that allows H-1B workers to perform services in specialty occupations at its worksite through a contractor, staffing company, or professional employer organization (PEO).

Presently, the obligation of compliance with H-1B requirements affecting required wages, working conditions, benefits and other labor protections under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is imposed solely on the entity directly employing and paying the noncitizen worker and submitting an H-1B visa petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Continue Reading Trump Administration Midnight H-1B Changes Purport to Impose New Burdens on Staffing Firms, Service Providers, and Their Corporate Customers

Seyfarth Synopsis: President Trump issued a new entry ban directly affecting foreign nationals in H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 status.  Below is a list of 20 questions and answers that have surfaced in the first 24 hours since the proclamation was published.

1.  When does the entry ban take effect and for how long?

The entry ban portion of the proclamation takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on June 24, 2020.  The proclamation also extends a previous order that banned certain immigrant visas (i.e., green cards) from being issued by the U.S. Department of State.  Both provisions will last until at least December 31, 2020.
Continue Reading FAQ – New Proclamation Suspending Entry of H-1B, L-1, J-1, and H-2B Nonimmigrants

Seyfarth Synopsis: The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in unprecedented travel restrictions, U.S. consular appointment cancellations, and changes to USCIS operations. To help navigate these challenges, Seyfarth is providing a brief summary of recent developments from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Labor.

Updates from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Continue Reading COVID-19 Immigration Updates From the Agencies

Seyfarth Synopsis: On March 20, 2020 USCIS announced that the agency will temporarily suspend premium processing for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions beginning on March 20, 2020 and until further notice due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Effective today, March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions. USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. However, USCIS also announced that the agency would refund the $1,440 filing fee if the agency does not take action on a petition previously filed via premium processing within the 15-calendar-day period, thus leaving open the possibility that even those already in queue for adjudication may not receive premium treatment.

Please find below a list of frequently asked questions with our insights.

1. What is the effective date of the suspension?

The premium processing suspension is effective on March 20, 2020.

2. How long will the suspension last?

USCIS states that the suspension will last until further notice, and that the agency will notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing service.  In the past, premium processing suspensions have lasted up to six (6) months.

3. Does the suspension apply only to H-1Bs or other visa categories?

The suspension includes petitions filed for the following nonimmigrant categories:  E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ (blanket), O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.

The suspension also includes all types of I-140 petitions, including EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.

4. How does this affect the H-1B cap lottery?

 USCIS indicates that it will still notify registrants selected in the lottery by March 31.  However, in the absence of premium processing, petitioners will likely not receive decisions on petitions filed on behalf of selected registrants until late May at the earliest, assuming a filing in early April.  In addition, companies that filed H-1B petitions with premium processing were able to easily communicate with USCIS representatives regarding case status updates and corrections to errors on the approval notice.  The suspension of premium processing will prevent companies from leveraging this benefit.

5. I am in F-1 status, my Optional Practical Training (OPT) will expire before October 1st, and I require H-1B cap gap to extend my work authorization through October 1st. What happens if I do not receive a decision on my H-1B cap case by October 1st?

If you will rely on H-1B cap gap and USCIS has not issued a decision on your H-1B petition as of October 1st, you may continue to remain in the U.S. until USCIS issues a decision.  However, you will not possess work authorization from October 1st until USCIS ultimately approves the H-1B petition.  If USCIS lifts the premium processing suspension early, which may occur prior to the six-month mark, your employer will have the option of submitting a premium processing request to accelerate processing of your H-1B petition.

6. Can a premium processing request be submitted for a pending I-129 or I-140 petition once the suspension is lifted?

Yes, once the suspension is lifted, a premium processing request may be submitted at any time.

7. I am currently in a nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B, L-1, TN, E-3) status and my status will expire this summer/fall. My employer will file an extension on my behalf.  How will the suspension of premium processing affect my work authorization and ability to travel internationally?

If you are in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status and your company seeks to extend your status, you will remain eligible for an up to 240-day extension of your status beyond the date of your I-94 admission record.  Therefore, the premium processing suspension should not affect your continued work authorization.  However, if you have international travel plans after the expiration of your current status and/or your visa stamp is expired, you will need your new approval notice to apply for a visa stamp before returning to the U.S.  In this case, the premium processing suspension may require you to delay your travel plans or remain abroad until USCIS approves your petition and you secure a new visa stamp.

8. Are there any other issues that may come up?

Yes, in some states, you may have an issue renewing your driver’s license.  Some states will allow you to extend your license by presenting evidence of a timely filed extension while other states require evidence confirming that your nonimmigrant status has been approved.  You will need to check with your local motor vehicle department to explore this issue.


Continue Reading USCIS Suspends Premium Processing For I-129 and I-140 Petitions Beginning March 20, 2020

[Blogger’s Note:  Today’s post originates from a discovery – a gem hidden in plain sight – first brought to my attention by  Gabe Mozes, my immigration partner at Seyfarth Shaw, and co-author of this piece. Great immigration lawyer that he is, Gabe raised a particularly galling example of how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Seyfarth Synopsis: USCIS completes the lottery process and received 190,098 H-1B cap petitions.

On April 12, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received 190,098 H-1B petitions to meet both the Master’s and regular H-1B quotas (or “caps”) for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018.  This means that

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its regulatory plan for 2018, which aligns with President Trump’s Executive Order, Buy American Hire American.

Although the specifics of each proposed rule will remain confidential until published in the Federal Register, the Regulatory Agenda does provides insight on what is likely ahead.  Changes to the

Seyfarth Synopsis: This blog post is intended to enable employers to identify any current employees and employment candidates who may require H-1B work permit sponsorship before October 1, 2019. We recommend that employers identify any such candidates as soon as possible, as on April 2, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin

Seyfarth Synopsis: Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have issued orders blocking major portions of President Trump’s September 24, 2017 Presidential Proclamation.

The Presidential Proclamation is the third in a series of executive actions ostensibly aimed at protecting the U.S. from terrorism and other national security threats through barring or limiting U.S. travel for nationals

Seyfarth Synopsis: On September 18, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective immediately it would resume premium processing for H-1B petitions filed subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap.

USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing of all H-1B petitions on April 1, 2017 with the stated goal of addressing significant backlogs